A junkie rock star ruins hers and everyone’s lives, but not for the audience.
My father sometimes told me that if Janis Joplin stopped doing drugs, she would still be alive today. I acknowledge the fact that certain musicians and celebrities were or are (depending on the time period) doing drugs in order to keep their cool during shows and events.
“Her Smell,” the latest entry from writer/director Alex Ross Perry, shows us the self-destruction of a musician and the people around her.
The opening to “Her Smell” is bonkers, and yet, we’re interested to know what’s going on. Elisabeth Moss (also a producer) plays Becky Something, the lead singer for the 90s punk rock band Something She. She thinks she’s having the time of her life, but that’s a fantasy. In reality, she’s a drug-addict, who drives her record producer (Eric Stoltz), her husband (Dan Stevens), her rock star rival (Amber Heard), and even her mother (Virginia Madsen) up the wall with her impossibly bad behavior.
Something She also features Marielle (Agyness Deyn with a somewhat Joan Jett hairdo), who sticks by her no matter what, and Ali (Gayle Rankin), who leaves the recording studio, at her wits end with Becky’s behavior. The record producer lands three more talents-Cassie (Cara Delevingne), Roxie (Ashley Benson), and Dottie (Dylan Gelula)-to the studio, hoping things will turn out better. Becky thinks it does, but obviously, she destroys herself.
The rest of the movie shows us Becky living in isolation while the lawsuits against her sink in. The scene that left me spellbound is when she performs Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” on a piano for her little girl (Daisy Pugh-Weiss). The actress claims she wasn’t really playing the piano at a Q&A I attended, but watch the long shot and hearing her voice brings a sentimental value to the movie.
It took a while for me to understand the movie’s concept with all the craziness that goes on with Becky’s drug attitude. Drugs make people do and say crazy things, and they deteriorate their personalities. Alex Ross Perry draws the main heroine with inspiration and honesty, and Elisabeth Moss gives one of her best performances as that girl. Her behavior and dialogue resonates with junkie stars, who think they know what they’re doing, but really they’re poisoning themselves and everyone around them.
And the supporting work from Stevens, Stoltz, and Madsen makes the element clear. But the best comes from Deyn with her hairstyle, charisma, and consideration. She and Moss have chemistry and some tender moments.
The entertainment world is challenging. What do I know? I’m not a movie star or musician, but I do know that these kinds of celebs need to keep their cool, and drugs and alcohol are probably their only solution. But like Robert Downey, Jr., they sometimes manage to change their lives around. “Her Smell” is about transcending from one emotion to the next, and it takes its time to study the mental problems.